China urges U.S. not to 'target' specific nation in Asia strategy

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- China's defense chief delivered a thinly veiled warning Monday to his American counterpart over the Obama administration's so-called pivot toward Asia.

"China is a peace-loving nation, and we hope that this strategy does not target a specific country in the region," Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan said at a joint press conference with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel after their talks at the Pentagon.

It was their first meeting since Chang assumed the post in March, apparently aimed at building mutual trust.

Topics discussed included North Korea, territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and cyber security.

Chang faced a few questions from reporters over Beijing's view on Washington's policy of rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

China is said to have misgivings about the U.S. strategy.

"It is our hope that this rebalancing strategy is a constructive one that could help the peace and stability in the region," Chang said. "And on the other hand, we would like to have this rebalancing strategy balance on different countries as well because the essence of rebalancing is balance."

He recalled remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping that "the Pacific is wide enough to accommodate both the two great countries -- China and the United States."

"It's always the Chinese position to welcome the U.S. to play a constructive role in the Asia-Pacific," Chang said.

Hagel agreed on the importance of partnerships between the two nations, often called G-2.

"The China-U.S. relationship is important for stability and security in the Asia-Pacific and achieving security and prosperity for our two nations in the 21st century," Hagel said.

As part of efforts to promote two-way defense exchanges, Hagel said he will visit China next year.

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